Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Lives for Old!

Resurrection---for now or later?  Kind of like when a server asks you, "Sweet or unsweet?" in reference to iced tea...Would you prefer your resurrection now or later?  Or maybe you would like it both now and later on.  You really can have resurrection now, in this life, today....and later, when you die.  For, you see, resurrection happens continuously throughout life and we just do not recognize it for what it is.

Like the time I had the flu, years ago before flu shots were so popular.  I remember I was a school teacher and stayed home an entire week with it, something I never did when I was a teacher.  I may have called in sick now and then because I needed a mental health day but when I was ill I tried to get better and get back to work.  So, I had the flu and suffered through a week of chills, fever, coughing, sore throat, general malaise, and in the middle of it thinking...."I could get well or I could die, and right now I really do not care which happens."  It was that severe and I was just staying at home, alone during the day because my wife worked too and we needed both of our incomes to survive, and spending much of the day on my back in bed, moaning with pain when I was not asleep.

Then....I got well.  That gnarly old flu germ finally gave up on me and I began to feel as normal and I could feel.  (What is normal, after all?)  I was resurrected from my bed of death and brought back to life, just like in the story of Lazarus that we will read this week in worship as we observe All Saints Day (or Totenfest, as we call it in German).  Lazarus was Jesus' best friend in the world, along with his two sisters, Mary and Martha.  In fact, some Bible scholars think it refers to Lazarus in John's Gospel when it mentions "the disciple whom Jesus loved".  So, Jesus was very close to Lazarus and hated it when he got the news that he had died.  In fact, he hated it so much that "Jesus wept."  Jesus wept when he encountered others weeping over the death of his good friend.  He saw their pain and knew he would work a miracle to end the reason for their pain but at the time he knew how much they were hurting because he hurt too.

Jesus had told Lazarus' sister Mary when he was talking to her after he arrived at Bethany, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live."  (John 11:25)  Now, the resurrection was standing with them in their time of grief and weeping with them.  Soon, he would work a miracle that would end their time of weeping but for the moment he sympathized with them and was with them in their pain.  Sure enough, Jesus called Lazarus out of his tomb and, all mummy-like, he hobbled out and was unwrapped and was back in the land of the living.

On All Saints Day we remember those whom we said goodbye to during the past year and think about them again.  In the church setting, we remember their lives in relation to the church and how they were involved in their church.  We also remember the good and kind things they did and how their lives reflected the love of God in the world around them.  We remember and we in the promise of Jesus being the resurrection and the life and that he promised to all who believed in him that they would live.  So, the saints whose names we call aloud are alive even as we say their names.  That is true and sure and a promise based upon the goodness of God and the love of Christ that lives in our hearts.

So, know that resurrection is a part of daily living.  We experience it each morning when we wake up and have our coffee and come back to life.   We experience it each time we are ill and recover and find life to be meaningful again.  We experience it each time we see a sunset, a butterfly, a singing bird, a jumping whale, or anything else that is alive and reflecting something about the goodness of life and living to us.  Resurrection is not just an Easter event.  It is a daily event and we saw it in the lives of those whom we remember who are not gone on to have it as their reality in a world we can only imagine.  We know it now, though, because it is also part of our world.  We just need to recognize it as we open our eyes and ears to life around us.

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